Austin Pet’s Alive Shelter of the month

Episode #37: “Shelter of the Month” Austin Pets Alive

By Elizabeth Lefelstein

In episode #37 of The Social Dog podcast, our host Cindie Carter brings on Katera Berent – Communications & Events Manager at Austin Pets Alive (APA) – in our first installment of our “Shelter of the Month” series.

Based in Austin Texas, the APA has become one of the nation’s leaders in the no-kill animal shelter movement – and has helped the city earn the title of the “largest no kill city in America.” Throughout the episode, Carter and Berent discuss what has helped the organization become as successful and impactful as it is. Starting from its inspiring origin story, to its innovative programs for both animals and animal welfare professionals.

Listen to the full podcast, here, or catch the recap below:

Origin Story

Austin Pets Alive started in 1997 as a small advocacy group simply trying to raise awareness about Austin, Texas’ homeless pet problem and alarming euthanasia rate in shelters. Which, at the time was nearly 90%.

Through the help of local veterinarians, city officials, and state legislature, the APA had transformed itself into a full scale animal rescue center and shelter by 2001. And by 2008, the organization increased the the city’s alive release rate (as opposed to euthanasia) to 47%. It The APA set an even more ambitious goal into motion: to increase the alive release rate at shelters to 90%.

Three short years later in 2011, the APA was able to double the city’s stats and hit its goal of a 90% alive release rate in shelters. Now in 2019, the alive release rate sits at 99%. The secret to their success is innovative programs it created from the ground up.

Read a detailed history of APA on their website.

Innovative Programs

Focus on high-risk animals

Austin Pets Alive hyper focuses on rescuing high risk animals from other shelters in the county, and bring them into their shelter for help. This included dogs that are/have:

  • Medical needs
  • Pregnant
  • Babies
  • Behavioral quirks
  • breed discrimination (e.g. pitbull mixes)

“The APA is a pioneer in the shelter and the animal welfare world,” Berent explained.

Types of help the APA offers:

The  most common reasons for pets getting euthanized at shelters is because of high medical costs or behavioral quirks. Through the help of volunteer marketers, the organization raises money to help pay for medical services and behavioral training for dogs up to  “average means.” Meaning what an average american household could afford. Examples of services include:



The APA also has a volunteer matchmaker service, between dog and potential owner, to make sure that both will be happy. They take into consideration things such as whether or not the family has kids, their home has hallways or stairs, and the preferred energy level of the dog. From these answers, the matchmakers can advise on which dog/owner pairings would be a strong fit.  There are 250 or so dogs onsite at any time, and the matchmakers know them all.


“Austin is very special. We’re very lucky to have the community that we do here. Folks that live here are so impassioned about animal. Animal is a top if mind topic for anyone in this Austin community” – Berent said.

Training and Conferences:

Austin Pets Alive partners with its sister organization, American Pets Alive to educate animal welfare professionals across the country on how to build resources to do the same thing they’re doing in Austin. They offer week long apprenticeships, as well as host an annual conference every  



“We love sharing this education, and we’ve seen it work at other shelters. We all believe in it so deeply that were excited to share with everyone else…Our Speakers leave you so inspired,” Berent said.


Read a more detailed overview of their programs for dogs and people on their website.


Interested in nominating your city’s local shelter for an upcoming “Shelter of the Month” episode? Contact us at today, with details on what makes the shelter so great.


Lastly, a thank you to our Affiliates:

The Dog Gurus

Better Bowl

Plantacea CBD


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